When it comes to holiday music, this most wonderful time of the year is a veritable oversized stocking stuffed with a dizzying array of choices.
So, picking the five best holiday albums of all time would be a Herculean task. After all, do you give the nod to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" or the Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas"? Willie Nelson's "Pretty Paper" or the Godfather of Soul's "James Brown's Funky Christmas"? The Carpenters' "Christmas Collection" or Mariah Carey's "Merry Christmas"?
(OK, so some choices are easier than others.)
Still, choosing from such a huge heap o' albums is nigh unto impossible.
As a result, we decided to narrow the focus a bit with our own version of the "Shop local" mantra:
As a public service to you, the reading/listening public, we went out and found the five best holiday albums created by artists right here in the Beehive State.
Parenthetically, we should point out that in perusing this list, some purists may note the omission of a Christmas album by the artists formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir -- a group that has produced dozens of holiday records since the 1950s. But frankly, we couldn't possibly choose between them all, so we'll go ahead and stipulate, for the record, that an honorable mention goes to pretty much anything by Utah's most famous choir.
Well, with the possible exception of David Archuleta and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Glad Christmas Tidings," which the Los Angeles Times named one of the 12 worst holiday albums of the last 20 years.
Of the MTC album, the Times wrote, "A holiday collection for those who find Jerry Bruckheimer's work too nuanced."
Ouch. That'll leave a welt.
But anyway, here it is: Our more or less definitive list of the five best Christmas albums created by -- and, arguably, for -- Utahns ...
1. "Noel," Peter Breinholt (2002, Timber Lane Music)
This longtime Salt Lake City-area musician has been called the James Taylor of Utah. With his acoustic guitar-driven folk pop and distinctive vocals, the Pennsylvania native has been wowing local audiences since his 1993 debut album, "Songs About the Great Divide," became an underground classic on college campuses in the state.
Breinholt's appeal is on full display in the 2002 offering "Noel." The album features comfortable versions of holiday standards like "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Do You Hear What I Hear," as well as stunning originals like "Wake Up Little Child" and "A Christmas Eve Song."
2. "A Family Christmas," The Piano Guys (2012, Portrait/Sony Masterworks)
The holidays are well-suited to the warm piano and cello combination of the Piano Guys, a group that originated in St. George and became a YouTube sensation with its mashups of classical and contemporary songs.
Pianist Jon Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharp Nelson front this collaboration, which also features videographer Paul Anderson and music producer Al van der Beek.
The foursome's 2012 album, "A Family Christmas," is worth a listen if for no other reason than their achingly beautiful rendition of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Throw in creative covers like "Where Are You Christmas?" and "Carol of the Bells," and you've got the soundtrack for your next classy holiday gathering.
And if you simply can't get enough of The Piano Guys this December, there's always the 2017 album "Christmas Together."
3. "Sing Noel" or "Come Let Us Adore Him," The Lower Lights (2013 and 2011, respectively; Groundloop Records)
Yes, we snuck in two albums on you here. But frankly, it would take Solomon-like wisdom to decide between these two equally gorgeous albums.
Plus which, we're in a generous, giving mood this time of year.
The Utah-based gospel/folk collective The Lower Lights -- consisting, at times, of 30 or more musicians -- performs carols, hymns and spirituals with harmonies and instrumentation that at once sound both well-rehearsed and refreshingly impromptu. The band describes its own sound as "part-revival, part-vigil, and steeped in tradition without drowning in it."
Familiar songs like "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella" and "White Christmas" get The Lower Lights' dreamy harmonic treatment, as well as lesser known tunes like "Mary's Lullaby" and "A Cradle in Bethlehem."
With either of these holiday albums -- or both -- The Lower Lights will make you a believer this Christmas.
4. "Osmond Family Christmas," The Osmonds (2000, Curb Records)
Few bands do that sibling-tight harmony singing thing like the first family of Utah pop, The Osmonds. And that sound is on full display in this classic holiday album from yesteryear.
Formed in the cradle of Weber County -- family patriarch George Osmond was once postmaster for Ogden -- The Osmonds offer heaping helpings of everything you expect from your holiday listening experience. Marie's "Blue Christmas" is a little bit country, while the brothers' "Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells" is a little bit rock 'n' roll. (OK, a VERY little bit rock 'n' roll.) But the lush harmonies on songs like "White Christmas," "Silent Night" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" can put even the Grinchiest of holiday haters in the mood for some spontaneous caroling.
If you grew up a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, this album was likely a part of the soundtrack of your holidays -- and rightfully so. The Osmonds and Christmas fit like Donny's purple socks.
5. "Santa Style," Eclipse 6
OK, so technically this isn't an album, but rather a series of singles/videos. However, we're making an exception because this loose collection of songs is just so darned fun and catchy.
The original members of the a cappella group Eclipse 6 met at Utah State University almost 20 years ago. And every year for, like, forever, the vocal band has been creating a traditional "Santa Style" mashup song, using the top Billboard hits from the year and changing the lyrics to be sung from the perspective of Santa and his band of merry elves. Parodies of popular songs include everything from Adele ("Hello from the North Pole/You're gonna get a lump of coal") to Taylor Swift ("Look what you made me do/I just stepped in reindeer poo.")
The a cappella group has also produced such holiday-inspired music video parodies as "The Greatest Snowman," which is a "The Greatest Showman"/"Frosty the Snowman" sendup; and "Hamildolph," which mashes "Hamilton" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" together.
Eclipse 6 performs these clever gems each year at its Christmas concerts, then offers them for sale or viewing on their website, eclipse6.com.
If you're in need of a few laughs at this hectic holiday season, try "Santa Style" by Utah's very own Eclipse 6.